Thursday, 31 August 2017

We've moved!

We've loved our little-big home here over at Blogger, especially as it's been such an easy way to work in our Google Apps environment. But it's time for a bit of an upgrade -- please find us over here in our new home

Please update your bookmarks and join us for more Digital Literacy conversation! 

And thanks so much for following! 

moving-into-an-apartment-in-phildelphia flickr photo by naiaraback1 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Friday, 11 August 2017

Start your new year with a new challenge...

Rope Climbing, Santa Monica flickr photo by Boss Tweed shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

A new year brings an educator fresh opportunities.

If you have a blog that's been gathering dust, or you feel intrigued by the idea of starting one, this post is for you.  Join over twenty teachers across seven countries who have signed on for the five month portfolio challenge.  If you join this August, you will be joining us for the fourth round (but don't worry, we will have new challenges coming soon).

Why should you consider this challenge?

George Couros has written about the why extensively, check out his blog here. For a snapshot of his rationale keep reading:
 Sometimes, for my own clarification, I go back and read my own blog to look at what I have done and how I can continuously work on it to improve. This transparent way of learning is something that I believe can not only improve the teaching profession as a whole (for example, take a look at the conversation on this Pernille Ripp post from today), but is something that could really improve learning for our students.

Each month we use a different set of 'thought-bait'

The prompts for your post are all included (but please, rebels are welcome too-go ahead and blog to the beat of your own drummer.) Here are our seven prompts for August:

Made with Padlet

Once your post is ready...

You are asked to kindly drop it off here by August 27th.  The posts are then bundled into reading and commenting teams (see here for an example from June).
If you have any questions about joining, please leave a comment below. If you aren't ready to compose your own post, but you'd like to join as a reader, we'd welcome that with open arms--please leave a comment and I'll be sure to get you the bundle of posts at the end of the month.

Monday, 19 June 2017

The Keri-Lee Legacy

As we prepare to say farewell to one of our amazing coaches, Keri-Lee, let's pause to be grateful for what will remain.

1. A stunning sense of design.  

Keri-Lee has become synonymous with CARP.  UWCSEA East has a lot of beautiful design thanks in part to the tremendous work KLB has done here. 

2. A trail of to-be font geeks.

Keri-Lee has left a series trail of bread-crumbs behind for anyone even thinking (don't!) of using comic sans. See here or here.

3. An awareness that technology can uncover empathy.

Use your tech for good.  Here's one of the ways KLB does just that.

4. A call to build better networks.

A school is all about the people.  Keri-Lee has done so much to construct intentional networks.  If you are one of the very few people who haven't seen her exemplify just that, you are in luck, she has a fab resource compilation here.

5. An inspired cohort of student-authors.

Keri-Lee never ceases to see the potential in her students.  Technology isn't about gadgetry, it is about engendering opportunity.  Her remarkable text here will inspire you to do the same.

In honor of KLB's last full day here at school, please share your favorite #Keri-Lee-Legacy with us as a comment below.

Digital Bytes - 19th June 2017


Book Creator Summer Journal

A fantastic way to remember some of the details from your summer is to keep a journal. Last summer, both my kids used Book Creator to capture some of the things that happened on a daily basis. It was great for photos and video and voice records.
Pages, Keynote and Numbers for iOS get over 500 Shapes

Creating infographics in Keynote or Pages just got way easier! Instead of going to the Noun Project or Flaticon, you can find icons right on your iPad or Mac with the update to the iOS iWork suite.

You can change the colours of the icons and even copy and paste them into other apps like Book Creator.


Images inspire writing - we know this to be true. Storybird helps with this process by providing hundreds of images for students to use in their writing of online, digital books. From single images, to picture books and longform books, there are a range of illustrative styles to choose from. Teachers can create class accounts, books can be downloaded or shared online, and even printed into physical books. Definitely one to check out!
Once Upon a Picture

Staying on the theme of images to inspire writing, Once Upon a Picture is another fantastic website you will want to bookmark. Organised into collections, such as Fiction, Inference, PSHE etc, each image comes with a series of questions to encourage students to “read” the image carefully. This approach helps when writing, but also when viewing a range of visual media. Enjoy!

Sunday, 18 June 2017

June Round Up: The Networked Educator Challenge

"The biggest difference I found was this way in which people are aware of one another while they are learning, and the way in which they connect and build and improve."

Lights flickr photo by Jule'Kill shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

We have made it to month two of our five-month educator-portfolio challenge.

This month we welcome a few new educators to the group (so if you are reading this, and you are keen to join, please leave a comment below and we will be sure to include you in updates for month three). For this month, the optional prompts were posted here.  Every month we will have prompts, and every month they are merely suggested ways to frame your post.  For July, our participants have helped to suggest prompts, and you can find those here (feel free to tell us about your suggestion for a prompt in the comment section).

If you are looking for added support with Wordpress, this playlist has a wonderful collection of resource to browse.

Without further ado, here are the June bundles.

Sharing flickr photo by Andrii Zymohliad shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license 

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Summer Book Creator Journal

As a kid, there were times when I kept a journal on and off. Sometimes those journals were longer pieces of writing and others they were bullet points of things I did.

Regardless of the format, I always loved looking back at my journals and remembering many of the different things that I did over the weeks and months.

Last summer, I thought it would be great for my own kids to keep a daily journal of some of the highlights of their days. We decided to use one of our favourite apps, Book Creator, to make the journals. It was such a great success that we are going to do it again this summer.

I learned a number of things along the way and I wanted to share what you can do to make your Book Creator summer journal a success.

1. Keep it Simple

One Post Per Day - No one likes a tedious task that needs to be done every day. This is especially true when one is on holiday. My kids knew they had to fill out a page for each day and share at least one thing that happened on that day. The posts were short but as the summer went on, they added more and more detail to their posts.

Speech To Text - It was easier for my daughter to use the speech to text function on the iPad to put the text into each page. It was vital that the kids could create the journal entries on their own or with very little support.

Simplify the Design - We decided on one size and style of font for the title and a different one for the writing. In keeping with good design, we kept these font throughout the book to make it easier. The only changes we made was to make the font white or black depending on the background image. To make this easier, they duplicated the page from the previous day and that way the page had the same size fonts. I said they could choose any font colour they wanted as long as it was black or white - no bright pink fonts here! We wanted to think about the reader of the book and not just choose our favourite colours.

Keeping it simple was really important because it made the daily task of creating a page doable and something that wasn't too much of a chore while on holiday.

2. Make it Visual

Use a Photo or Video - It is much easier for people to remember something when it is connected to a visual element. So every page had at least one photo or video to accompany the text. I made sure that I was capturing photos on my phone every day just in case my kids didn't. 

We tried to fill the page with a photo if we could and then put the text over top of the photo.

One of the great features of Book Creator is that I can add videos into the book. Sometimes these videos were of an event like being pulled on the back of a boat on an tube while others they were a video slideshow of many photos from the day made with Quik.

3. Get into a routine

Our routine was for the kids to do their journal entry first thing in the morning. We didn't want to do a week's worth of entries all at once because it was too hard to remember the details of what had happened. 

The details of day are the things that we forget and so these are the things worth remembering. They are the aspects that are really fun to look back on. 

One thing about using Book Creator on the iPad is that the journal is only in one place. This has it's benefits and its drawbacks. The iPad is very portable so it is easy to travel with and we don't need internet to use Book Creator. The main drawback of being on one device is that there is no backup. If something goes wrong with the app or the iPad, you could lose everything. An easy solution to this is to periodically download the ePub file which can be easily edited on another iPad which also has Book Creator. If you haven't used Book Creator before, here is a quick tutorial to help you get started.

I am really looking forward to seeing what my kids create this summer in their journals. Last summer's journals are fun to look back on. In the future, and as the kids get older, maybe the next step will be to use iBooks Author instead of Book Creator. We will see. For now, Book Creator will be the place where we store our summer memories.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

30+ resources to help you rethink your learning space (and counting)

Recharging your batteries over the summer is a good time to being to rethink your classroom design for next year (or to finally catch up on Netflix).  To help you prioritize and innovate, here are 30+ resources to get you started (follow the Flipboard to get all the updates as they come):

View my Flipboard Magazine.

"Designing for Inquiry, Exploration, and Creation

Learning spaces designed for inquiry do not emphasize a demarcation between teacher and student spaces, have no set “front of the room,” create makerspace-type areas for students to create, tinker, and design, and employ instructional pedagogies that push students to ask questions and seek understanding—not listen to information and regurgitate. The problems of tomorrow will be solved by those students who have such opportunities today." (Full Edutopia article by Eric SheningerThomas C. Murray)

Monday, 5 June 2017

Digital Bytes - 12th June, 2017

10 Great Places to Find Background Music For Video

We all know the difference music can make in video to help set the mood and support the visual component.

We have already looked at Creator Studio which is part of your YouTube account and is a great source of free music.

Here are 10 more places you can find music for videos. Some of these sites are musicians who are sharing their music and others are collections of royalty free music from around the internet.
21 Chrome Extensions for All Students

However, the Chrome Extensions mentioned in the article can benefit all students and help support with features like text to speech, readability, reading comprehension, focus and navigation.

15 Teacher Podcasts for Your Summer Playlist

With summer just around the corner, there are probably a number of times where you will be sitting around not doing much (or, let’s face it, awake in the middle of the night with jetlag).

A great thing to fill this time is a podcast. Here is a list of 15 Teacher podcasts that have something for everyone. Everything from Vicki Davis’ 10 minute podcast to the Dr. Will Show which features a variety of leaders in education.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Development week: Round up

Interested in what else was happening during Development Week?

Middle leaders spent 90 minutes exploring portfolios.  

We imagined what our portfolios could be four years from now.

As a provocation, we listened to one current university student reflect on her High School blogging experience:

This student has continued to use a portfolio as a tool for learning in university:

“Ultimately, it is my vision that this blog will facilitate and document my journey – and possibly yours, too – in striving to become a better global citizen, life enthusiast, and lifelong learner: stumble, learn, repeat.”

We also listened to Louie, Georgina and Uzay reflect on their portfolio process so far:

We also hosted an optional 90 minute session on Learning Spaces.  

We looked at a few key provocations here, here and here to spark conversation, toured recently revamped spaces, and then worked on two classrooms in small teams.

Here's what we managed to accomplish:

Lastly, a group of teachers also learned about the basics of iBooks Author

We explored the possible applications to integrate into that amazing resource and had a wee bit of fun playing with the built in trailer feature on iMovie and the capabilities of PicMonkey.

To discuss any of those sessions further, see your friendly DLC!

Monday, 29 May 2017

Digital Bytes - May 29th 2017

Podcast - WOW in the World

Hot off the press is a podcast by NPR is aiming to be “a new way for families to connect, look up and discover the wonders in the world around them.” Scientifically based, WOW in the World is sure to be a winner for your classroom and beyond.


Data Basic is a tool for analysing text and data quickly to look for patterns. Paste in some text, or upload a file to find out the frequency of words, how similar and different two files are, connections and interrelationships in your data. Check out the samples and videos to show you how the tool can be used.

Film Resources - Michael Hernandez

At the recent ReThinking Literacy conference, Michael Hernandez shared this Padlet of Digital Storytelling resources. There is a wealth of information contained, including how film can inspire empathy, podcasts in the classroom, and the art of the video interview. You might want to also connect with Michael on Twitter for more cinematic exploration.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Digital Bytes 22nd May 2017


Flipgrid is an easy to use video reflection tool.

As a teacher, you can post a prompt and your students can respond with a video reflection. Here is an example from Grade 4 teacher, ADE and Flipgrid Ambassador, Andy McGovern.

As always, remind your students to use headphones for the best quality recording.

Images to Inspire

We know images have the power to spark creative thinking, but we seldom make the most of this fact when providing writing stimuli for students. Thankfully, this website has you covered! You can view by collection (e.g. Inference collection) or by latest image. All images are shared with permission by the original artist, which is great to model for your students.

Quick Draw

Quickdraw is a project from Google which is using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to recognize drawings.

You can help and have some fun along the way by adding to the world largest doodling data set. It is a quick timed activity so you only have 20 seconds to create each drawing and Google is trying to guess what you are drawing the whole time.

After you have tried 6 drawings, you can see what other people drew in response to the same prompt you had.

May Round Up: The Networked Teacher Learner

Our five-month challenge started here, and now we are lucky to have our first rotation of what Silvia Tolisano refers to as 'Mulling it Over.' online learning community is a manifestation of connectivism as knowledge is distributed throughout the community of people and devices. A blog would serve as a connectivist tool as it facilitates interaction between peer and social communities of learners, continuity of conversations and allows for anytime, anyplace, anywhere learning (Garcia et al., 2015). Other tenets of connectivism addressed through a blog include the ability to involve external experts, control of the environment by the learner as they make and maintain their own connections, and the shift in the role of the teacher as students become accountable to one another (Garcia, Brown, & Elbeltagi, 2012).From CONNECTIVISM AND BLOGGING by Madeleine Brookes

So before we dig into our first cycle of reading and commenting, please pause and consider the words of the recent student speaker, Kavya, in her address at the Class of 2017 graduation:

"A legacy is not always just about you leave behind, but is also about what other people carry away from you."

With this in mind, here are our first blog-bundles for May.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Digital Bytes - 8th May, 2017

Easiest Slideshow Ever!

With the newest update to iOS, you have access to the easiest slideshow making tool we have ever seen: Memories.

Simply put a number of photos into a folder on your iPad or iPhone,, open the folder and tap on the dates at the top of the screen and your slideshow is made! You can add or take out photos and even include videos.

You’re Not Going to Believe What I’m About to Tell You

The Oatmeal has produced a classroom-friendly cartoon about the Backfire Effect - the reasons why people find it difficult to accept information that challenges their world view. This graphic is best suited to students G5 and above, but will be an interesting read for all teachers.

Digital Breakout

BreakoutEDU is a fantastic experience which focuses on a group’s ability to work together and solve a series of problems.

Digital Breakouts have no physical components and only need an internet connected device. There are different challenges for various age levels. Try them out yourself!

Friday, 28 April 2017

Why Digital Literacy and Learning Spaces belong together.

"The teacher no longer needs to be the holder of information...but rather can become a co-learner..."

When we reenvision our spaces together, what do we learn together?

You may have seen a few posts documenting this year's experimentation and thinking around learning spaces in this post, this post, this episode or this one. Like all aspects of doing what we do well as educators, that journey is multi-faceted, ongoing, and collaborative.

Where does Digital Literacy fit in?

Everywhere.  As our digital tools continue to enable more self-directed, collaborative, and authentic learning experiences, our physical spaces need to evolve with that shift.  Consider the changes you've seen in airports, banks, and movie theatres: technology has changed the way those spaces are streamlined and structured.  So what might that mean for your room?  

Spaces which allow for collaboration and independent inquiry

Spaces which value choice and independence

Spaces which direct learners to our understanding of Creative Commons
All signage custom made for the theme using The Noun Project for support

How does a shift in our learning space design shift our thinking about online spaces?

With better online spaces, we are able to better preserve, share and curate resources.  How often do we post something with size font 12 writing to a wall--rendering it visible only to those directly in front of it, and only when they are in the physical space.
Which resources are better presented through our college's digital tools? 
And to what extent do our digital tools better allow us to generate an ongoing dialogue with those resources with our learners?  
Additionally, which physical resources can we provide access to in our digital spaces?

When we worked with Georgina to revamp her room,  the signage was intentionally organized to be readily accessible to students regardless of their location (see these IBDP Psychology provocations linked to her new room theme #pathways). That slide deck is now accessible to students even after they graduate.  It makes use of open use images, and can easily be shared with DP Psychology teachers outside of the college for feedback and future exchange (in just three days it has been viewed 35 times).

Can a classroom revamp remind us of the power of networked learning?

When looking to remodel Louie's Chemistry classroom, we wanted to be able to use a few amazing images we found online.  Via Twitter, we contacted the creator, and he responded...within the hour:

How does a focus on learning spaces remind us of the power of our digital tools?

Whist commonly overlooked as resources, Keynote and Pages have been essential tools of the various classroom revamps happening.  Now, more than ever before it is easier to make signage which perfectly reflects our learning ethos and speaks to the culture of our various classrooms.


These collaborative classroom revamps have reminded us that we can make creative work together. Rethinking classroom design asks us to speak with people across faculties and schools to better understand our different educational philosophies in order to better showcase a physical and digital representation of our passion for all things learning.